Did you know that fatal traffic accidents in Thailand are the second leading cause of death for U.S. travellers abroad (The first being traffic accidents in Mexico)? No, luckily I didn’t either when I jumped on the back of a bike three weeks ago in Krabi.
You’re actually really really unlikely to die abroad, but with a few terrifying stories of female travellers dying of food poisoning, being raped and murdered, dominating the headlines recently, I thought it time to share a few travel safety tips.
Without scaremongering (Have enough fear to keep you present each moment of your travels, enough to keep you cautious, but not enough to stop you from traveling), safety and risks come down to time and place as much as anything. Each region, country, or moment of life comes with its own issues, risks, and fears.
I was with a huge, hairy, scary male companion but my two eldest daughters are both planning trips to Europe this Summer, and whilst personal safety is probably the last thing on their curious excited minds, it’s worse for us parents at home worrying! So the few pieces of advice I am currently drilling into them are;
• Learn travel scams. Each country has their own local to them and a quick Google search will help you to be prepared.
• Invest in travel insurance. Hopefully you won’t need it, but even in Europe, now after Brexit, a hospital visit will be pricey. I have a strong stomach but narrowly avoided a medical appointment myself, when I managed to contract a bad stomach bug towards the end of my trip.
If you fall seriously ill abroad and need hospital treatment, the average cost is now £2,040.
From an analysis of travel insurance claims, the most expensive country for inpatient treatment is the US, with the average hospital visit costing £6,000 last year, 10% more than in 2008. The next priciest is Thailand at £2,750, followed by the Canary Islands at £2,500.
• Keep valuables locked up. Call your accommodation to ask about secure storage options like a room safe, lockers, or a locked storage area. Carry your own locker padlock when staying at backpacking hostels. Use it to keep your bank cards, passport and other valuables safe.
• Always tell someone where you are planning to go and what time you expect to be back. Especially if you have to travel somewhere alone.
• Invest in a personal alarm for when you are out and about and a ‘Step Away‘ door wedge alarm. Ideal for frequent fliers, college and university students and anyone who is uneasy about staying solo in a hostel or hotel room.
Simply jam the alarm under a door to make it harder to open, and if an intruder tries to force entry, you (and hotel staff) will be alerted with an ear-splitting alarm.
If you’re anything like I am, you will be far more concerned about your children off to see the world than worrying about your own safety, so hopefully this gives you just a slight peace of mind,